• Martin Rice

    FAIRYHOUSE RACECOURSE INTERN

    A 'reputation', something that takes years to build and only fleeting moments to lose is crucial in the thoroughbred industry.  I do not have a horse racing or breeding background and being the only member of my family involved to any degree in the equine industry, a good reputation is something I am keen to establish for myself. 

    Leo Powell, a man with vision and passion for the industry, managing editor of The Irish Field, put this in a unique context "it's not what you know but who you know"; meaning those who believe in the reputation you establish as the hard worker you are, will support you and help you on your way to achieve in the industry. Thus I felt the opportunity for a summer internship at Horse Racing Ireland, which has such a leading role and strong reputation in the industry was an opportunity not to miss!

    It offered me a new experience, having worked for racing yards part time for the past four years and having obtained my qualified riders licence, as I studied. The opportunity to make new contacts, see how key aspects of the industry operate and develop my own reputation working with highly experienced people was something I had to grasp with both hands on the reins. 

    Meeting the Fairyhouse team was a 'first day at school' type of experience but nerves quickly left as I was made welcome. With introductions made, my role was clearly defined. It was clear I was welcome from the offset by a charismatic and efficient team; they enjoy their job, have a passion for racing and want to make the track as successful as possible. I settled into the easy going atmosphere and was left looking forward to my following days at the course. 

    I am currently in my fifth week and already it's a learning curve with a wealth of knowledge being passed on to me to absorb from Operations Manager Gillian Carey. 

    The first racing event was the start of the Flat season at Fairyhouse. I am happy to say I was present on the day Fran Berry rode his 1000th winner on Shabra Emperor trained by Anthony McCann. The numbers through the turnstiles were up on the previous year, as the bright sunshine had the public in a great mood for enjoying the social event which is horse racing! The 5th of July meeting was the highlight of the Flat season at Fairyhouse, with the Brownstown Group 3, won in good fashion by Ainippe for Ger Lyons. There was a great atmosphere on the day and we were kept very busy in the office to ensure all ran smoothly. It was thrilling to see the day a success. 

    Some of my highlights include walking the track with the Track foreman, Noel Fanning, Racecourse Manager, Peter Roe and the Clerk of the course, Brendan Sheridan, who are all very knowledgeable about the ground conditions and maintenance required to keep the ground in excellent condition. This gave me an insight into how many more customers a racecourse must please than a normal service business. Not just the general public but owners, trainers, jockeys and the betting man at home. The track work is intensive all year, always planning ahead to ensure it is in prime racing condition. 

    Sales and Marketing Manager, David O'Connor has also given me projects to work on in the office. These include refreshing the website, student race day promotions and digital marketing which has allowed me to improve my media and computer skills. Fairyhouse also like to use the personal touch when marketing - hitting the phones to create customer relationships with the track and this has developed my personal communication skills. 

    Interns are also made feel part of HRI with training from head office and the community-like structure across the organisation. As interns we have opportunities to network within the thoroughbred industry, attending other race meetings or HRI organised events such as the schools day at Downpatrick and visits to organisations such as Kildangan Stud and the Irish National Stud.

    Looking to the future, I have the vision to run a successful equine business and contribute to the development of the industry in Ireland and abroad.

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